This is the final article of a three-part series that looks at the most important sections of the LinkedIn profile, the About, Experienced, and now the Headline. It’s debatable as to which is the most important of the three profile sections, but according to a poll taken on LinkedIn, the Headline is the most important.
Now that you know the Headline is (theoretically) the most important section, you’re probably wondering how you can write a LinkedIn profile Headline that makes people take a second look and want to read the rest of your profile. Fifteen (15) LinkedIn pros go into detail on how to accomplish this.
One important element of a strong Headline is search optimization (SEO). One of the 15 pros goes into detail on how to optimize your Headline.
A common theme among the pros is not settling on your title as the Headline. Why should you? You’re more than what you do and where you work.
There’s the Good, Better, and Best kinds of Headline sections. Read how you can accomplish the “Best.”
Use emojis in your Headline? Heck yes; they add color and make it stand out.
And of course one of our pros comes up with an acronym. Find out what it is and what it stands for.
But don’t take my word for it. Read what all the pros have to say about writing a powerful Headline.
SEO for Effective LinkedIn Professional Headlines
Your LinkedIn professional Headline defines and brands you across the Internet. You are much more than a job title at your employer, the default.
FACT: The words you use in your Headline greatly impact your visibility when someone searches both LinkedIn and Google.
Know your most important keywords, and use those terms in your professional Headline:
- Your job title is usually a very important keyword term.
If your job title isn’t commonly used, add the more frequently used term (in the Experience section, too). So, a marketing manager who has the “Marketing Warrior” job title should include both terms in the Headline.
- Add key terms that are important to people who might hire you or want to connect with you.
Everyone who wants to work from home should terms like “Experienced Remote Worker” to their Headline, as appropriate. For example, an admin assistant working from home could use “Admin Assistant/Virtual Assistant.”
- Include your most important skills and/or accomplishments.
Check the job descriptions of the job you want next (with your target employers) and the profiles of your most successful competitors to see which terms are the most important.
- Make the most important terms visible in the beginning of your Headline to have the best SEO impact.
Three key tips to remember about your Headline when someone is searching LinkedIn (not using LinkedIn Recruiter):
- Focus on keywords that will bring you the professional attention you want.
- Make the most important keywords visible near the beginning of your Headline.
- The keywords in shorter Headlines seem to rank higher in searches than those with the keywords near the end, so choose the words and the length of your Headline carefully for the most powerful SEO.
Do not make your Headline a list of keywords. Humans must find it interesting and appealing too.
Your Headline is like buying a house
Imagine looking for a house.
You go to your favourite website.
Your specifications are:
House, 3 bedrooms, 120 m2 habitable area, 2 baths, near park and shops. Central location.
And you see the results.
Those pictures look inviting.
Some houses pop up, right on top of the list.
They match your requirements.
Your heart skips a beat.
Do you ever click on links without a picture?
Do you ever click on links without a description?
It just says: House available. That’s it.
Nope, they don’t get clicked.
So, Dear Job Seekers,
Recruiters are looking for you.
You are the HOUSE.
I beg you. I BEG YOU.
Stop writing ‘Actively seeking new roles’ in your LinkedIn Headline.
Your Headline needs to help you to be FOUND.
Do this instead:
Ha, you wish.
Titles Skills Accomplishment
Titles: What are they looking for? (Is it a house/apartment/studio?)
Skills: key skills/attributes you see repeatedly in job descriptions. (no. of bedrooms)
Accomplishment: I help you to find the house of your dreams
Project Manager | Agile & Scrum Methodology | B2B | 10 years experience managing complex, multi-stakeholder projects & saving organisations $300,000 annually.
Make every word count
As many people probably know, the character limit for the Headline is 220.
I am personally a fan of making every (key)word count because your Headline is prime real estate. The words that you select for your profile should be exact words that a recruiter would use to search for someone with your skill set.
When crafting LinkedIn Headlines for clients, I typically follow one of these formulas:
Formula: Role | Specific Industry Achievement | Fun Fact
Example: Senior Healthcare Executive | President & Chief Executive Officer | Turnaround and Multi-site Specialist | Becker’s Healthcare CEO of the Year
Formula: Role | Industry/Expertise | Unique Value
Example: Chief Investment Officer | CIO | Legal Executive | Focused on strategic asset management of a $25B portfolio
Formula: Role | Helping [type of company] do [result] | keyword 2 | keyword 3
Example: Chief Marketing Officer | I increase revenue and product awareness through innovative brand and digital strategies | Retail and CPG
You’re more than your title
<Job Title> at <Employer>. That is what most people have as their Headline because LinkedIn makes it the default. But aren’t you more than a title? I hope so. Do you want your “personal brand” to be connected with one employer? Probably not. So, make sure you customize your Headline.
LinkedIn gives you 220 characters to tailor this most visible aspect of your profile to tell the reader about you. Think of all the places where your Headline is seen.
- When you comment on a post
- When you post content
- In search results
- In the People You May Know section
- When you apply for a job on LinkedIn
That is a lot of places. Why should a person click on your profile or look at your content? Because you have hooked them in by having a compelling Headline.
So how do you get a reader’s attention? Tell the reader what they need to know about you. Interest the reader in you.
- Tell them about your skill sets
- Tell them your areas of expertise
- Tell them what you have and can accomplish
- Tell them how you help your target audience
Lastly, do not forget about keywords. Keywords will get the attention of your audience and help you come up in search results. To do this, make sure your Headline and other parts of your LinkedIn profile have the appropriate keywords that will be searched for by your intended audience.
If you are an Accountant whose practice focuses on tax issues, you should have “tax” somewhere in your Headline. If you are a Software Developer and have sought after programming languages, add them to your Headline.
Think branding, metrics, keywords
Your Headline is often the first impression that people will have of you on LinkedIn. You can do better than just have it be a title and an employer.
You are not a default candidate, so don’t leave your LinkedIn profile Headline in the default setting, which is “Your Name at Current Employer.” This is the fastest way to blend into a page of search results. Instead, make yourself stand out by customizing your LinkedIn Headline. Not doing so is a missed opportunity to make a strong first impression
Forgoing customization means your Headline might currently read something like, “Sports Marketing Manager at Elevate Marketing.” This Headline barely makes a dent in the ~220-character allowance and fails to tell employers anything interesting and/or attractive about you to encourage them to engage.
I guide clients to include 3 key elements in their Headline to the extent it’s possible:
Here’s an example:
Sports Marketing Manager curating creative touchpoints that inspire fans | Former Pr🏀 Athlete | Drove 30% revenue growth | Strategy | Digital Marketing | Business Development | Sponsorship | Experiential Events
This example is 210 characters long. When employers/recruiters are scrolling through search results for “Sports Marketing Manager,” the default Headline will not stand out, but this one will because it offers effective, attention-grabbing information.
This one also happens to feature an emoji, which can be helpful when used creatively. Your LinkedIn Headline is called a “Headline” for a reason. Just like a newspaper’s front page, make sure your headline sparks people to pick up this edition featuring your story.
“You are only as good as the good you do for others.”~Unknown
There’s Good, Better, and Best. Make your Headline “Best”
You must take your LinkedIn Headline seriously.
Because it’s crazy glued to everywhere you go on the platform.
Anchoring your name.
Appearing under all your comments on other’s posts
At the top of the DM strings.
Headlines can be classified in three categories:
These are basic Headlines, reliant on your title, Creative Director
They’re uninspired but are good because your title (unless made up like Ninja) uses keywords that recruiters and other decision makers use to search for your function.
Everyone and anyone can have a Headline like this.
Better Headlines combine title with an ownable and benefit driven narrative
Precision Marketing & Media Lead, Nissan | Solving to Evolve Media & Marketing Organizations Prioritizing The 3Ps: People, Process, Product
Monetization mobilizer building, scaling & revitalizing revenue for everyday luxury brands | VP/GM, Global Data Strategy & Monetization at Condé Nast
Does what better does AND adds in a little zinger:
Founder + Creative Director | Sharpe Creative • I work with small and midsize companies who crave the impact of a big brand — together we are David, ready for Goliath 🤜💥🤛
🛵 Executive Creative Producer 🛵 Leading Large Scale Teams For Global Brands To Deliver Massive Impact. 🛵 On time. On Budget. No Ego.🛵
A few final words on Headlines.
They can take a little while to nail, and that’s normal. You’re going for right, not rushed.
It should fit in tone and words to feel like you.
Like other parts of your LinkedIn profile, your Headline should be refreshed from time to time in order to stay relevant and reflect your most current value.
Don’t be afraid to get a little creative, even irreverent here. Every decision maker appreciates a candidate who has confidence and stands out.
This is your first impression, make it the best one.
5 steps to crafting the optimum Headline
A powerful branding element that describes who you are, what you deliver, and what you’re most proud of in your career, your Headline can entice other LinkedIn users to read further. Even better, it will attract traffic if you’ve added keywords that emphasize your most important skills.
Here are 5 steps to crafting the optimum Headline:
- Start with your career level or goal (SVP of Sales, Global Operations Executive, Contract Administrator, CIO, etc.). You can use more than one job title, but be sure it matches the positions you’d like to have.
- Next, add keywords matching what you WANT to do. In my case, Leadership Careers, Resume Writer, and Branding all help convey what I do for my target audience. Keywords should resemble your ideal job description. Important note: remove skills you’d rather not use in your next job. (I’m a former IT consultant, but you won’t find SQL or application development in my Headline.)
- Third, fold in a top career achievement. Maybe you’ve reached the #1 regional ranking in your industry, led digital transformations, or earned promotions at Fortune 500 companies. “Digital Payment Solutions Enabling 43% More Online Transactions” or “New Efficiencies From Robotics Process Automation” convey wins (and even include keywords).
- Then expand your Headline to use as many of your 220 available characters as possible. Longer Headlines have a better shot at incorporating a clear value proposition and the keywords integral to your findability as a candidate.
- Last of all, consider incorporating some bling with symbols in your Headline. A quick search on “symbols for LinkedIn Headlines” will return an array of interesting bullets you can use to separate key fields.
Set yourself a part from others, don’t commit #personalblanding
Personal Blanding is the intentional or inadvertent act of demarketing or making oneself appear generic. Accepting any defaults on LinkedIn, especially the [Headline] of [Title] at [Company], are the most blatant forms of Personal Blanding. Personal Blanding won’t get you noticed while Personal Branding will!
Think of your [Headline] like a branding handshake. The up-to-240 spaces is like the time it takes to comfortably shake hands, introduce yourself, and maybe the deciding factor in your future.
Imagine you are on a two-story elevator with nine other people, just like you, going to an interview for the same opportunity. Right before the doors close, the CEO steps in. This decision-maker turns and says hello, introduces themself, and shakes each person’s hand, expecting the same.
This is not the time to falter, drone on, or try to regurgitate your resume. What can you say during this brief handshake time-frame that will set you apart from everyone else on that elevator? What can you say that is short, succinct, and will get you remembered?
That’s your Personal Branding [Headline].
💥 Make your Headline distinct with emojis 💥
LinkedIn is highly visual, and it’s becoming harder and harder to cut through the
noise. If you want your LinkedIn profile Headline to capture attention you’ll need to do something many people still aren’t – use emojis.
You heard right. Emojis are a powerful tool on LinkedIn. They make your Headline
more visually memorable and can help you appear more friendly and approachable.
But don’t think that Emojis are all about conveying emotion, either. An emoji can be a bold shape, a conservative black dot, a brightly coloured symbol that stands out amongst the text and ensures your headline actually gets read.
Adding emojis to your LinkedIn profile and content is as easy as copying and
pasting. Depending on your operating platform, there are various keyboard
shortcuts you can use and emojipaedia.org will also enable you to find the right
emoji or symbol that suits your brand message.
The challenge being that often we don’t know what we want, until we see it…
My article HERE captures a wide spectrum of LinkedIn-friendly emojis, moving far
beyond a smiley emoji.
Don’t be invisible, stand out from the crowd
You know how sometimes you hear something and it gets stuck in your head. Like maybe the overture to Raiders of the Lost Ark? That’s pretty catchy: I don’t know anyone who couldn’t recognize it if they heard the first few notes.
Back on August 31, 1997, Fast Company published an article by management consultant Tom Peters titled The Brand Called You. This article struck like a thunderbolt when published and remains just as powerful and relevant today, almost 24 years later. As Peters wrote:
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
Today we call it personal branding, a fairly common concept in career circles now but on the cusp of Q4 1997, it was revolutionary.
The 220 characters of your LinkedIn profile Headline are a stunning billboard to display your personal brand because everyplace your name goes on the platform, so go your profile photo and Headline. Everywhere, including search results.
And the best personal brands articulate a unique value proposition: what is it that someone brings to the table that they alone offer?
Unfortunately, when you create a LinkedIn profile, or when add a new job to your profile, LinkedIn “helpfully” suggests updating your Headline to match defaulting to [JOB TITLE] at [EMPLOYER].
Now imagine someone searching for what you do for a living. In the search results, they see literally hundreds or even thousands of search results, filled with firstname lastname [JOB TITLE] at [EMPLOYER].
You have become invisible. My friend and fellow contributor Kevin D. Turner refers to this as personal blanding for good reason. There is a vast ocean of undifferentiated sameness in LinkedIn search results.
Stand out! The purpose of any branding statement is to make someone want to know more. That’s why it is essential that your Headline articulates your unique value proposition.
Give the reader a reason to want to know more. What motivates you to do what you do? Which of your traits would managers, reports, and colleagues consistently say were your top ones? And remember: it’s not bragging if it’s true.
You are more—far more—than the position you currently or last did. No job title can possibly contain the whole of what you bring to the table. So why constrain yourself?
You want to interest people. Craft your Headline accordingly. And when you do, front-load your highest impact content in the first 80ish characters, as over 50% of all LinkedIn traffic is via the app rather than desktop, and Headlines get truncated on the app.
Define your audience and write for them
If you try to appeal to everyone with your LinkedIn Headlines, you’ll appeal to no one.
Take a moment to identify what type of person or employer you’re trying to connect with, and then think about which skills and qualifications you can put in your Headline to attract them.
For example, if 30% of your current role is sales-related and the rest is customer support, but you’re targeting phone sales jobs now, you could write this Headline:
Top-performing sales rep | 3 years of phone sales experience
(I have more Headline formulas/examples here.)
You shouldn’t go into your interviews and lie about the breakdown of your past job duties, but you should highlight what’s most relevant in your LinkedIn Headline to get that interview.
And there’s no rule that your LinkedIn Headline needs to be identical to your job title or even include it.
To gather ideas for keywords and skills to include in your Headline, look at a couple of job descriptions for the type of role you want. Notice the job titles and also the top skills listed.
The more you can demonstrate that you have some ability or overlap in those areas, the better, even if it’s from a different industry or slightly different type of job.
Use your Headline as the foundation of your About section
I tell my clients that their Headline can be the foundation of their About section and, for that matter, their Experience section. To stand by my word, I do this with my LinkedIn profile. This is how I started my profile, and this is how it stands now.
It makes sense if you think about it. If you want to brand yourself throughout your LinkedIn profile, you must be consistent. Every section of your profile should brand you, but there are no more obvious sections than your Headline and About.
There are a plethora of Headline and About section styles. Neither are better than the others; it’s a matter of preference, just as long as they fit your personal brand and deliver a strong message.
To illustrate what I’m talking about, I’ll show you my Headline which begins with a tagline and is followed by titles that I currently hold.
👊 I’m on the frontline fighting 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 for job seekers ◆ LinkedIn Trainer ◆ Career Coach ◆ Online Instructor ◆ Blogging Fanatic 🏆LinkedIn Top Voices 2019 #LinkedInUnleashed©
In my About section I should closely follow the title listed above with two-three lines describing how I live up to the areas of expertise.
I’m not entirely accurate in terms of order of placement, and instead of using nouns I use adjectives. My headers are: 𝗝𝗢𝗕-𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗚𝗬, 𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗞𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗡 𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗜𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗚, and 𝗕𝗟𝗢𝗚𝗚𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗢𝗡: 𝗝𝗢𝗕 𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 | 𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗞𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗡.
Under 𝗝𝗢𝗕-𝗦𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗖𝗛 𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗚𝗬 I have the following two statements:
★ Recently I received an award for my part in delivering job-search webinars. 🏆
★ I consistently achieve “Excellent” ratings on webinar evaluations.
Why make writing your Headline and About complicated? Show your value by using a tagline and keywords by which to be found, and then structure your About section after your Headline. Value + Consistency = Strong Branding.
The “what,” “who,” and “why” of writing your Headline
The keys to a great Headline if you’re a job seeker center around how you define yourself professionally so that you can attract the right opportunities. This 220-character piece of real estate should help showcase your unique value and character to potential employers.
You want to say three things primarily. What you do, who you are and why you’re different.
1) What you do: Identify the roles that you want and incorporate the keywords and industry terms. Research job postings for positions of interest and use a Wordcloud to identify the most common words. This ensures that recruiters can find you through the power of search engine optimization.
Remember you can include several and separate them by vertical lines or bullets. Ex: Career Development Specialist | Certified Coach | Resume Writer | Instructor | LGBTQIA+ & Career Consultant (Sandra Buatti-Ramos).
2) Who you are: Showcase your authentic personality. This could be possibly incorporating your “why” or your personal mission. This is a great opportunity to get creative, use more subjective language and even emojis. Ex: I help executives (CXO), directors & managers level up, land a job faster & increase earning power! (Adrienne Tom).
3) Why you’re different. This component is critical to expand on how you’re more than just a job title. This is an opportunity to speak about your niche market, or perhaps a really high achievement that you’ve been able to accomplish. Ex: “Acquiring 10,000 B2B Leads a Month” (Seun Oyediran).
Entice viewers with your Headline
- Your profile Headline plays a crucial role when it comes to your visibility on LinkedIn for two reasons:
- It helps your profile pop up in relevant searches, meaning people can find you more easily, and
It has the power to grab attention and entice more profile views.
Imagine typing in a search on LinkedIn and seeing hundreds of profiles appear in the results. How would you differentiate among them? Which profile would you click on first, increasing the chance of engaging in a conversation with that person before you reach the rest?
Your Headline needs to set your profile apart from your direct competition. Instead of resorting to the default “Job Title at Company Name’, consider this an opportunity to make a first impression and tell a story in 220 characters or less.
A great way to do that is to turn your Headline into a short slogan that summarizes your core value proposition while also hitting some of the most relevant keywords used to describe your profession and level of expertise.
Compared to a plain job title, a slogan is so much more engaging and gets the message across instantly. You don’t need to be in sales or run your own business to write up your own branding slogan.
Here are a few examples for inspiration:
Digital Marketer | Merging social media and recruitment to connect people to the right role
Helping sales teams become more successful through social selling
Use S. O. A. P. to write your Headline
I like to say that strong LinkedIn Headlines apply the S.O.A.P formula:
Professional and personalized
Your Headline introduces you on LinkedIn. It follows you everywhere on the site. Often it is the only thing people see about you until your full profile is accessed.
Maximize Headline real estate to create a positive impression and help people better understand who you are and what you have to offer.
Write your Headline with purpose and intent to get found for that next-level position or awesome job opening. Clean it up with a little S.O.A.P, working within the designated character limit, as demonstrated in these examples:
Sales Executive / VP, Entertainment. Evolved the customer experience in media advertising from transactional to collaborative, propelling sales and revenue growth >>> 500%+ revenue expansion in 4 Years
VP of Product Strategy: I delivered millions in new revenue for technology companies through customer experience and product initiatives. B2C | SaaS | Global Enterprise Software Solutions | Digital Marketing
Oil & Gas Sales Manager | 110% YOY Sales Growth | $150M Territory | National Sales Teams of 40+ | Upstream and Midstream Oil & Gas
Controller: I influence decision-making and raise business profitability through the delivery of trusted financial intelligence. Accounting & Financial Leadership | Global & Fortune 500
The above Headlines are:
Specific. We know what type of role each professional holds or aspires to hold and the value they bring to business. Specific metrics and numbers help add scale, scope, and impact.
Optimized with industry keywords and terminology that recruiters could be searching for.
Authentic to each person and their offerings. Some even use first-person.
Professional and personalized, instilling confidence in the reader.
I share 3 additional ways to write your Headline for different audiences in this accompanying article.